Candidates for elections for the City of Shawnee met last night to discuss their views on different city issues and how to resolve them.

Candidates for elections for the City of Shawnee met last night to discuss their views on different city issues and how to resolve them.

One of the issues highlighted which spanned across all the candidates and elections was balancing the budget and finding the money to pay for the different projects across the city.

Candidates for the mayoral election were Ed Cole, Wesley Mainord, and incumbent Linda Peterson who has served one term as mayor.

One question the mayoral candidates were asked was whether or not the city should provide financial incentives to businesses, specifically Chick-fil-A.

Candidate Ed Cole said no.

“I think a business should just basically fund their own operation,” he said.

Wesley Mainord said that other businesses were not awarded financial incentives and had to pay for their own improvements.

Incumbent Linda Peterson said she thinks certain businesses should receive financial incentives to help keep tax dollars in Shawnee.

“There are businesses that people leave this town to go shop for things all the time and we need to keep those tax dollars here,” she said.

Jo Davis and Linda Agee, candidates for Ward 2 Shawnee city commissioners, agreed that funding was the greatest issue facing Shawnee at the moment were. Neither candidate is currently serving in Shawnee.

Candidates were asked if they opposed Proposition No. 3 from the February 14 election, which would have raised property taxes to build communication towers to improve communications between emergency officers.
Agee said she believed the money could come from funding that was already available, specifically the third penny sales tax.

“I did not support increasing property taxes to fund the communication towers,” she said.

Davis said she voted yes to Proposition No. 3.

“I called the county assessor and they said that the average home increase would be $12.99 a year. I thought the safety and well-being of our police officers, and our emergency personnel, and the people that they are trying to serve are worth $12.99 to most people,” she said.

Ward 3 candidates, Jeannetta Towns and incumbent James Harrod, who has served two terms for Ward 3, highlighted improving unity within the Shawnee community and improving the budget.

Candidates were asked if they supported raising sales and property taxes to pay for community improvements.
Harrod said he would support raising taxes in a limited way.

“Small property taxes for small projects won’t actually be a detriment,” he said.

Harrod went on to say that large property tax increases would hurt the schools and he would not support that.
Towns did not support raising taxes.

“I believe the people in this city are already paying enough sales tax as it is,” she said.

Instead Towns encouraged citizens to volunteer their time and their skills to help improve their city. She added that this would help foster community pride.

Ward 4 candidates, Keith Hill, David Bergsten, and incumbent Billy J. Collier, were asked if they supported raising the telephone landline fee by 15 percent to consolidate with the county’s 911 communications.

Bergsten said he would like to consolidate with the county, but was unsure if the 15 percent increase was actually necessary.

“I definitely would look at other options first,” he said.

Collier said he would like to consolidate with the county.

“Whatever we need to do to increase the efficiency of the 911 center, where we do not have people out there injured or dying because of an inefficient system, I would be for,” he said.

He added that he hoped the project could be achieved for less money.

Hall said he also agreed with the consolidation.

“I do agree that the health and safety of the public takes priority, so whatever needs to be done there takes priority,” he said.

Hall added that he believed that consolidation typically saved money, rather than increasing expenses, so he would need to do research to look at other options as well.

The next PAVE forum will be held at the Shawnee City Hall Monday, June 11.